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Posts tagged ‘commitment’

Kelly: What Shall You Do?

This little scrap of spelling list has been floating around the house for months. I find it here and there, and for some reason, I’ve just never thrown it away. Today I was thinking about everything that I have on my plate on right now, and when I came home, I saw this on the floor in the bedroom. Shall.

Sometimes things get so crazy that we lose track of all the things we said we shall do. The kids get sick (Olivia). You get sick (me). The cat goes on the lam again (Tink). You become over-committed, oftentimes because of things you cannot control (me, work). You stay sick because you’re over-committed (me, still). You follow through on obligations you make because you committed that you shall do them (me, participating in the Halifax Arts Festival even though I was still sick). You work one very demanding full-time job, one part-time job and try to manage a creative business, for a reason (you, um, I, want the part-time job to become the full-time job so you can have more time with your family and more time for creativity). So you keep going.  What shall you do to pull all this together?

Today, I shall try to remember that all things will fall into place where they shall, in their due time, as the Man above plans. And I shall be thankful that I got to get away for a brief 24 hours to reunite with my sorority sisters Saturday (45 of us), antibiotics and cough drops in hand (and a few beers to help battle the germs). And I shall decide that those custom orders can wait just a little while longer, and that will be okay. And I shall decide that I’ll get to my blog when I get to my blog, which obviously hasn’t been very often lately. And I shall sit on the couch and cuddle with my girls while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then lie in the bed and snuggle with DH while watching Antiques Roadshow. And I shall try not to worry about all those things I’ve been losing track of. And I shall decide that everything will be just fine. What shall you do today?

[cross-posted from Artful Happiness…pictures from the reunion there :-)]

Robin: Stepping In

I completed my one week ecourse with Christine Mason Miller this past week.

More than anything, I found that putting the money down for the e-course forced me to DECIDE…Decide whether I am in or out. Am I really moving into this writing life of mine? Or am I just flitting around from here to there talking about it and blogging about it and TWEETING about it.

So step 1: Yesterday, I cancelled with a friend who wanted to shoot the breeze explaining that I KNOW that Josey’s preschool time is supposed to be set aside for writing. And I KID YOU NOT, within the next 24 hours TWO PEOPLE asked me if I would like them to help with Josey, giving me 4 EXTRA HOURS next week to write.

So here I am stepping into my life. I am writing an e-course on the spiritual side of creativity. The anticipated launch date is January 2011. You heard it here first. I am thrilled to say it in this space because this is where I first put my toes in the writing water this year. Thanks to Miranda and all my kindred spirits for the courage to put one foot in front of the other.

[Photo credit]

Kelly: How the Birds and the Bees Made Me Grateful

I came across this picture cleaning up and packing my office before our repaint and recarpet this summer and found it tucked in my calendar last week. It was taken at the beach wedding of a friend. Sarah and I were watching the wedding while DH and Olivia were off shell hunting, and the wedding photographer caught this shot. Such innocence. Where the heck did it go!?!

I was driving the girls to school Friday when Sarah asked, “Mama, how can teenagers have a baby?” Stalling, I asked her what she meant, and she said she saw a teenager on TV that had a baby. Wow! Didn’t expect to have the birds and the bees conversation quite this early. I tried to respond with, “Well, teenagers really shouldn’t be having babies.” And she said, “’cause you aren’t supposed to have a baby until you are at least 30.” See, I’m trying to train them well! I tell them that you can’t get married until you are 30, so therefore, you can’t have a baby until you are at least 30 because you have to get married before you have a baby. (Now, I realize that in this day and age, many women are having children without getting married, and that’s fine, but that’s a discussion for another post…) Anywho, Sarah continued with, “So do we have to start taking no-baby pills now so that we don’t have a baby?”

You see, when the girls have asked me about the little pill I take before I go to bed every night (they are far too observant), I tell them that’s my no-baby pill so that I don’t have any more babies. (Okay, so maybe I need to rethink that conversation.) I tried to explain that while, yes, no-baby pills work to keep you from having a baby, there are things that mamas and daddies do to make babies that you won’t need to worry about for a long, long, long time (like when you are 25, she says, as she sticks her head in the sand). “What’s that, Mama?” And I stupidly responded, “Sex.” “What’s sex, Mama?” I somehow managed to change the subject by responding again that it’s something they wouldn’t have to worry about for a long, long, long time, and then said, “Hey look! They mowed the cow pasture! What are the cows going to eat now!?”

I’m guessing the topic of “What’s sex?” has now probably come up at school amongst their friends. I can hear it now: “Destiny, do you know what sex is? My Mama said it’s what mamas and daddies do to make babies.” I am expecting a call from the school any day now.

This Mama stuff….when you don’t have your own Mama around, it’s very much a make-it-up-as-you-go-along thing. I guess even if you do have your Mama around, you might still be making it up as you go along. There are mornings when it just smacks me out of nowhere. I’ll be standing at the kitchen sink, washing up the breakfast dishes while trying to keep the girls on task to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks and get ready to head out the door, and it smacks me right across the face: I’m a mother. I don’t know why it sometimes hits me that way. From early on, I knew I wanted children. Heck, I wanted four children! Boys! I think maybe that came from seeing my college boyfriend’s family. They are a family of four boys who all absolutely adore their Mama. But still there are days that I find myself amazed that I am a mother…that I am worthy of this task…that I have been given this blessing…that I have the qualifications for this most wonderful of jobs… Maybe it’s because we had to go through so much to get where we are, who knows?

Take a peek over at Brene Brown’s post Monday. She and I corresponded a bit after this post and I’m working on doing a few things on campus related to this project. What does this have to do with being a mother, you ask, other than what should be the obvious that “perfect mother” is an oxymoron? In our e-mails, she directed me to a TED talk she did about vulnerability, and what she speaks of everyday, having ordinary courage, taking the time to realize the small wonderfulness that happens in our lives every day. The little things we overlook. That’s what it has to do with being a mother. I will remember the conversation Sarah and I had Friday morning hopefully for the rest of my days. And standing at the kitchen sink tomorrow morning, I will remember what a blessing it is to stand there and wash the breakfast dishes of two little angels. And I will be amazed and overjoyed that I am their Mama. And I will be incredibly grateful for that gift. How about you? Have you taken the time to think about what you are grateful for today?

[cross-posted from Artful Happiness]

Kelly: Learning to Spread My Wings

Over the past month, I’ve been taking an e-course with Kelly Rae Roberts called Flying Lessons. Let me just say wow. The amount of content Kelly Rae has written for this course has been absolutely phenomenal. I imagine the full thing would print out to be a 300-page book. It’s been crazy chock full of great information. Of course, as par for the course for me, I’ve been having a heck of a time keeping up so I’ve been hopping around a bit, but today’s post really struck a chord with me. It talks about embracing the journey of a creative business… “the ebb and flow, overwhelm and burnout, celebration and joy.” I’ve most definitely been experiencing that. (Bracelet above listed in my Etsy shop.)

Kelly Rae said, “After all, in the big scheme of things, it’s often not the destination that we can control. The only thing we really can control is staying centered and inside the perspective that the creative biz path really is a journey. If we can give ourselves permission to not always know, to give up the “shoulds,” then we allow ourselves and our creative spirits a bit more freedom to roam the mysteries of its possibilities.”

Well said, sister! Last year, I postponed the majority of my regular juried show schedule in lieu of participating in the Riverside Arts Market (RAM). I was so excited about RAM. The venue was gorgeous, the idea was fabulous, and I felt like it was something Jacksonville really needed. And if I could stay right here at home and sell my jewelry and photography, awesome! Now, I still think the venue is gorgeous, and the idea is fabulous, and the people running it are truly wonderful; it’s very well organized. It just didn’t work for me. My sales for 13 weeks at RAM barely surpassed what I normally do at a large juried festival in one weekend. Granted my jewelry is on the higher end of what you’d typically find at a market like this, so maybe that was part of it. And maybe I expected too much. Who knows? I’d love to see RAM move to a once-a-month format instead of a weekly format. While RAM is still the top dog and the best run market in the best venue, nearly a dozen little Saturday arts and farmers markets have sprouted up in the area, and I wonder if the market is getting a bit too diluted.

My experience with RAM was a big lesson for me. And it was a big lesson that caused some major burnout. All those Saturdays in a row at the market away from my family, not making many sales, really took a physical and creative toll on me. Because of that, this year I took a big step back. I only did one show this spring, the always fun and profitable Springtime Tallahassee Arts Jubilee. (I wrote about my very first Springtime Tallahassee here; it was quite an experience!) I’ve started worrying less about selling my art and started enjoying more the process itself, creating whatever I’ve wanted to create when I’ve wanted to create it (obviously, since in the last week on my blog I’ve shared the jewelry above, a mixed media postcard, and some Best Shot Monday photography!). That’s been very freeing. I guess that’s part of the ebb and flow Kelly Rae referred to. And because I’ve let go of the need to sell, every little sale I do make on Etsy or on my website is cause for celebration! And it’s made room for other things, allowing me the time to explore other creative areas, the freedom to experience amazing adventures like Artful Journey, and even the room and opportunity for my first solo gallery showing of my photography (more on that later!).

It’s fitting that I wrote this post on June 30. Thanks to that letting go this first half of 2010, I’m now starting to feel better about loading Sally up and hitting the road again, so this fall, I’m planning to get back to a scaled-down version of my regular show schedule. Because I’ve been so scatter-brained lately (okay, I’m always scatter-brained, but I’ve been more scatter-brained than usual lately), I missed the application deadline for Market Days in Tallahassee, which has been one of my regulars, but that’s okay; that’ll save me that $375 booth and application fee, and I’ll fill that spot with a less expensive show. I’m looking into the Glynn Arts Association shows for this fall. I could essentially still sleep at home with those since they are just an hour up the road in St. Simon’s! So thank you, Kelly Rae. That post was just what I needed to read today. It was a good reminder that the journey really is so much more enjoyable when we worry less about the destination. That’s a good lesson learned.

[Crossposted from Artful Happiness]

Cathy: Results!

Remember this list?

I spent the previous two days at writing camp with my writing group. Two whole days dedicated to writing. Yesterday I had a different meeting in the morning, but then I headed straight to  my writing camp’s day two, and thought I was going to have trouble, but amazingly got right to it! I seriously surprised myself by what I accomplished in the last 48 hours!

The List now looks like this:

DONE~continue to edit Joe out/Mike into Thanksgiving and Observatory scenes

DONE~write observatory scene using A. H.’s notes

Fixed~pay attention to name changes for T. B. and T. N.

working on~characterize supporting characters more through action and physical description

working on~make ‘thought bubbles’ action scenes or move them to more fitting scene

working on~edit down cooking relevance

mostly finished, maybe a bit more at the end~more on comets

I also edited it a bit more in making sentences and paragraphs more succinct in the first 50 or so pages.

I need to edit the observatory scene now, but at least it’s on paper – er, computer screen. I think my next stage is to print and edit again by hand. I read very differently on paper than on screen, and can see needed changes so much better.

I obviously need to be in a different environment than my office with my home distractions to be able to concentrate on my manuscript edits.

The other five women I sat in quiet with for the past two days expressed the same thing. Here’s the funny part: I thought it was because of my kids, etc, but only half of us have children at home, and of varying ages. I am the only one with a toddler or a special-needs child, of course, I have one of each. Two are grandmothers who live with their retired spouses, who are both very good at busying themselves. And one is home while her husband still goes to the office.

We’re all at a stage of editing a large work we’re committed to. All of our projects are middle reader or young adult novels. Yesterday we planned that the rest of our usual twice a month meetings for the summer will be devoted to writing, no critique.

This way, when autumn comes around, we will all have work to critique. How’s that for commitment? I couldn’t do this without them. I am so grateful to my writing group and to the time we commit to working together.

[crossposted from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: Caught writing

Last week I mentioned my new story idea that came up in the midst of my big edits I need to do on the first book.

Yesterday I had one of those rare creative spells in which, no matter the interruptions, I wrote steadily over the course of about 6 hours on the new idea.

I’m really enjoying it. That spark was what was missing in the edit draft two stage of the manuscript. I mean, I enjoy making the improvements, but it’s a slow road.

But having something else to be excited about is just plain fun.

So I will continue to edit when I have good uninterrupted chunks of time, as in when my writing group meets. But in the meantime, I’m going to have fun over here on this little idea in all the little moments I have between the usual family business.

Making stuff up is so much easier than fixing what I already have. And it’s fun. I feel like a kid with a kite. It’s time to fly.

After my prior whiney blog share, I felt compelled to crosspost from musings in mayhem something more positive on writing that happened shortly after.

Cathy: The Universe works in mysterious ways

I will kvetch no more — this week anyway — as after my last two days of considering every option and feeling like I had none left, suddenly:

a friend offered to barter my tutoring her 13-year-old daughter for watching my 2-year-old daughter on writers’ group days.  So I don’t need to find and pay for immediate daycare just so I can have a few hours of writing and critique time a couple of times a month.


drumroll, please…..

Honey’s cousin needs some of Honey’s professional expertise on a public speaking gig in Colorado in a couple of weeks. And he offered to let me tag along, too. I will go to his public speaking gig, but largely, I am going to blissfully sit in my hotel room, without any interruptions and edit the bejeez out of my manuscript on Honey’s laptop!!!

and Grandma offered to watch the kids for that weekend.

I hope I didn’t die, because this sure feels like heaven.

[slightly edited crosspost from musings in mayhem]

Cathy: Back to the book

I have received excellent notes from someone in a position to discuss observatories in a way that I need to fill the hole in my manuscript. For this, I am extremely thankful, and feeling the impetus to write that one hole in the book.

I basically have not been able or free to write or edit in the manuscript since my retreat in January and my surgery in February. The fact that my toddler is way too busy now at times when other than her, I have the house to myself, and therefore should have no distractions… Yeah, right, that’s a good one!

So much for writing during morning naps. Buh-bye! Actually that was gone about six months ago.

Then, two other things put a kink into the process: My mother-in-law started a diet support group with her exercise buddies on the same day as my critique group; and my critique group bumped the timeslot from 12-2pm to 10-12pm. Same time as her regular exercise classes she has committed herself to for over three years now.

This prompted me to start seeking inexpensive daycare services to try to cover Toots for at least two half-days a week, so I would have time to write and time twice per month for the critique group. She turns 2 on April 1. All the basic church basement type preschools in the area start at 2.5 years. Otherwise, it’s parent accompanied playgroups or expensive daycare centers. I felt really SOL. But I have committed to putting my writing on the map. Think, think, think.

So I got a message late Sunday night to request a change for this week’s group meeting to Thursday from the usual Tuesday meeting. And it was to be a writing rather than a critique meeting. I was half-ecstatic. Only half, because while it did not conflict with my mil’s diet group, it did conflict with her usual exercise classes.

Yesterday morning, I shored myself up and asked if she would mind watching Toots on Thursday morning instead of going to her class.

Not that she typically says no, but it’s not like I typically feel I can ask, because I want to respect what is important to her. She said sure.

Maybe a week by week check-in is what it will take to get my writing on the chart, to coordinate around a household of six including toddler. At least for now. And in six months, maybe I can start her in a regular preschool, if we can figure it into the non-existent part of the budget.

Baby steps. For now, I will write, in the committed company of other writers on Thursday for two hours. That is two hours of writing I did not have before. One week at a time.

Crossposted from Cathy’s personal blog.

Kirsty: Everyday Art

[Editor’s Note: Meet Kirsty Hall, a Bristol-based artist and curator. Kirsty’s website includes an inventory of useful articles for artists on how to build an online presence. Kirsty has kindly allowed us to re-post several pieces from her blog that speak to creativity and motherhood. The first appears below. Thank you, Kirsty!]

grape stemLast night, my son had his 15th birthday ’sleepover’ (why do they call them sleepovers when no sleep ever happens?), so I was in nominal charge of 8 teenage boys. This morning, as my son and I cleared up the quite considerable mess, I found myself musing over the similarities between parenting and art.

Art is an everyday thing. Like parenting, it is made up of lots of little moments, a thousand little decisions and a hundred thousand moments of just showing up — what Alison Lee of Craftcast calls “getting your butt in the chair”.

Art is usually not the heroic struggle of Romanticism or the epic machismo of the 1950’s Action Painters, although those big dramatic moments do sometimes occur, most often in the run up to an exhibition. Instead art — for me at least — is rooted in the everyday; in the daily ritual of the Diary Project envelopes, in the way I sit in my computer chair listening to podcasts while I do another couple of rows on a Thread Drawing canvas, in the slowly changing pile of art books that are permanently in residence under my bed.

Although it is not usually about domesticity, my art is firmly rooted in the home. I am fortunate enough to have a studio at home and like Virginia Woolf, I recognise the importance of having a room of my own. However, my art also takes place in other rooms in the house: in the living room while I’m watching TV with my family, in my bed where I often draw, in our library/dining room where I sit at the big table and stick photos into my sketchbook, in my study as I make work in front of the computer, in the shower where I think up ideas, in the kitchen when I get distracted from cooking by the sudden overwhelming need to photograph the ingredients.

Art permeates my whole life — it isn’t confined to a set time or a set place.

In the myths about art, this everyday quality is often omitted. For some reason, it suits people to imagine dramatic moments of crazed genius, a life lived on the bohemian edge and a slow descent into madness, drugs and suicide. We seem to want our artists to be very different from everyone else. Perhaps the reality of getting your butt in the chair, like the daily grind and pleasure of parenting, seems too mundane to most people? Was this great art really made in front of the TV or with radio 4 playing in the background while the artist drank cups of tea and pottered around the studio — how dull! We wanted death threats and overdoses, tortured homosexual love affairs, rats and cockroaches in the studio, drunken pissing in the fireplace, body parts cut off and maybe a couple of tragic stabbings!

But art — like parenting — is not something you do once in one grand and shocking gesture and then never again. Instead, it’s a constant trickle, a constant reiteration that this tiny thing, this moment of awareness, this quiet, everyday dedication is the really important thing.

[Image (Grape Stem 01) courtesy Kirsty Hall under a Creative Commons license.]

Cathy: No Nanowrimo win here

crossposted from musings in mayhem

I am happy to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. It put me into a good lead on a companion book to my first novel, and now both need some serious editing. I lost my momentum between lots of doctor appointments for my whole family, getting quite ill myself and caring for sick kids, then my back went out as we leaned toward Thanksgiving, and I got hung up in word count rather than having fun enjoying writing well.

That last part was what killed the project for me. Not the whole project, I am happy to continue work on this particular piece, but I want to go about it in the way that is familiar to me. I am an editing nightmare to some, but I’ll tell you, that is what I really enjoy about writing as I write, the scribbles and rewording, the back-typing and rewording, the considering of the scene from an entirely different angle, etc. It’s what I enjoy about the middle of breadmaking, too: the kneading, the punching it into form.

I have just a few days left to try to make it to 50,000 words. I am at 19,201 and have my family home, no one at work, no one at school or at senior exercise programs until the thirtieth. I don’t think reaching 50,000 is my personal goal anymore. A children’s novel is typically about 30,000 and I don’t want to just write crap for filler for a contest that has lost meaning for me in it’s final goal. I’ve also lost my thread plotwise and feel like I’m wasting precious word count time doing what I actually love about writing and my process in it. That is indicative that it’s time for me to move on and refocus without the contest looming.

For now, for me, this year 19,201 is a fantastic stopping point. Now I can sink my teeth back into the edits of the first novel and then run right into edits on the second I started because of Nano.

Does this then make me a loser if I am not a Nano winner? Certainly not. I have 19,201 words written that I didn’t have before I started NaNoWriMo. That’s a big win in my book. I’ve never written 19,000 words toward one thing in three weeks time in my whole life, nevermind with a houseful of sickies and also school days off throughout the month.

I may not have hit 50,000, but I did a lot more than I would have if I hadn’t tried.

Miranda: Yeah, I’m writing, but OUCH

26421546_0cccf04d2eWhat lengths will you go to in order to protect your creative time?

I’ve come to depend on my Saturday morning “me time.” My husband and I split the weekend mornings; he gets Sunday. This means I can either sleep in on Saturdays or get up early and start writing — or a combination of the two. But I have from whenever I get up until 10:00 or even 11:00 (if I push it) all to myself, assuming that I don’t have to leave the house to go do something. Like pick kids up from sleepovers.

Sleepovers. A few weeks ago I came to realize that my Saturday morning time was increasingly being sacrificed to pickups for one of my older kids after a Friday night sleepover. Sleepover pickup time seems to be 10:00 by default. This means I need to leave the house by 9:45 in most instances — so I have to start showering/getting dressed by 9:15. If my husband and I were up late the night before and I want to sleep in a little, maybe I get out of bed at 8:00. So, up at 8:00, make coffee….by the time I’m happily ensconced back in bed with my coffee and laptop, I might have an hour left before having to stop. Now, an hour is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s a whole lot less than nearly THREE hours. And without question, once I’m up and have joined the family, that’s it. There’s no going back to my morning hidey-hole. What’s a mama to do?

I started telling my older kids that they had to nail-down pickup time BEFORE dropoff. Either they needed to know that I could pick them up at 11:00 or later, or they had to arrange for a ride home. If neither option was feasible, and the sleepover couldn’t be moved to our house, then no sleepover. I figured that this was only one of the two weekend nights anyway, so it couldn’t be too problematic.

My new edict took hold. Things were going well. I started remembering to remind the kids about pickup plans before I agreed to take them anywhere on Friday nights. More time to self = happier me.

Then, this weekend, my mother came down to babysit while my husband and I went to the David Gray concert in Boston. As we were leaving — late — my daughter asked if she could sleepover at a friend’s house. She needed a dropoff, however, and it was out of our way. No go. But then Grandma volunteered to take her, with the two little ones in tow. Fine. Daughter was happy and packed her stuff in a rush. Just as we were all heading out the door at the same time, I remembered: “What about tomorrow? Are you going to need a ride before 11:00?” Oh. Daughter wasn’t sure. She made a few calls. No, she had to be picked up by 10:00 because the host had a soccer game, and the other girl who was also sleeping over was unable to give my daughter a ride.

I thought about my morning, and how I was so looking forward to getting back to my manuscript. I thought about what I’d just said to Cathy about how your family won’t take your creative commitment seriously unless YOU take it seriously. I want to finish this book, and I need to treat my work LIKE MY WORK.

I told my daughter I couldn’t pick her up at 10:00.

She was sweet, and didn’t give me a guilt trip. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’m going to have a busy weekend NEXT weekend.”

I felt like crap. Really, was it such a big deal to cut my morning a little short? I couldn’t do it. “It’s fine, I’ll just get you in the morning,” I said (a little reluctantly). “No, Momma,” she said. “It’s fine.” She headed back to her room, and I let it go. We left, while I fell into maternal self-flagellation. Isn’t it a mother’s JOB to drive her kids all over the place? Was it really fair to deprive my daughter of a fun night with her friends, just because I selfishly wanted MORE time to myself?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t know if I want to know. But my daughter didn’t go, and I used my morning time effectively. I kind of owed it to my daughter to do that, didn’t I?

What would YOU have done?

Some of our readers are contemplating (or have already committed to) NaNoWriMo. What are you going to do to protect the amount of time required for churning out 1,600 words a day? Sure, most people here (even non-writers!) could churn out 1,600 words in a single day. But EVERY day, for THIRTY days?

Despite the sheer terror mild panic, I’m thinking of running “bandit” on the NaNoWriMo road race. I can’t commit officially, because I want to work on my current fiction project and NoNoWriMo rules specify that all projects MUST be from scratch. I’m also more than a little intimidated by the 1,600 daily benchmark. Even just committing to 500 words a day might be a struggle for me. Once I get going, I’m fine, but finding the sit-in-your-seat-and-get-started window, every day, is pas evident.

Stepping up your game, and making sure that YOU are clear on your commitment and that you then communicate that commitment to your family, are essential steps. What else can we do to create — and protect — our time?

[Photo courtesy Shawn Allen under a Creative Commons license.]

Cathy: Mishap Tai Chi

My apologies if you read Korean, this is my first attempt

My apologies if you read Korean, this is my first attempt

Those of you who have been getting to know me here may have begun to notice a certain tendency toward being a wee-bit cock-eyed or shall we say, taking a lot of left turns off path. I think I read that old Robert Frost poem at a very young age and have taken the path less travelled in virtually everything I do ever since. Like trying to finish my book for instance, and all the various things I can so easily find to distract myself from doing so.

So there I was sitting at the back of S’s Taekwando class when Master Ko offered a sign-up sheet to the students for their parents for a free tai chi class at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. Master Ko and I have a lot of difficulty in communication. He apologizes for his ‘bad English’ and I apologize for too many rock shows in my youth leaving me relatively deaf at a relatively young age. Rarely do I come away from a conversation having completely understood what has transpired. I’m still not exactly certain the cost of S’s class from month to month, but he just smiles and takes my check, no matter what I make it out for.

Saturday, I arrived at 7:45 a.m. No one there, door locked, and my coffee hit. I really needed to pee. So I darted back home (around the corner, so to speak) and wondered if I should have shown up next week. Darn, when I was signing up with wiggly C on my lap, I didn’t look at the top of the page, either. When 8 a.m. rolled around, I hopped back in the minivan, and darted back around the corner. Four vehicles were in the lot, but still the doors were locked, and aren’t martial artists known for their punctuality? Could it be I am merely one among dingbats, or did Master Ko have an emergency this particular morning?

Well, I made a few cell phone calls, deleted some voicemails. I watched a couple of people start half-hearted and conversant stretching exercises outside the door. 8:30 a.m. rolled around and well, I needed to pee again. OK, I know — tmi — but these things are important considerations in about a year’s time after having a baby, when you’ve already had other kids, too. I got out of the van, practically dancing, to talk with the one guy who had a black belt, and he suggested we could go around the side of the building where he could get us started on some tai chi in the grass while we wait for Master Ko. So I corralled other reluctant participants from their vehicles, and we did just that. I was nervous the whole time that I would pee my pants with the exercises, but I survived by looking at my watch every thirty seconds or so. At 9 a.m. I asked, ‘do you think he’s here yet?’ It had been indicated earlier that he usually arrives by 9 for another tai chi class on Saturdays. Black Belt Guy peeked around the corner, and yes, Master Ko was unlocking the doors.

After my run to the ladies room, and I do mean run, The Four Dingbats and Master Ko straightened out the confusion re: the free class for parents of students business that was to start the following week to last through next month. Of course, I will be out of town for the ‘first’ class. Master Ko kindly merged the Dingbats into his usual 9 a.m. tai chi class, of which only one participant had shown up. He was very informative and really tweaked us into the proper positions. When all was said and done, I ended up with a 90-min intense beginner tai chi work out. It really cleared my head, felt great, and set me up for a day to prepare for that night’s slumber party of half a dozen 13-14 year old young men. I survived the party, too, even with the all-out Nerf gun war occurring at 1am.

Bottom line? I highly recommend tai chi for all of us who have been having difficulty getting that last 10-20 pounds off, or those of us with achy joints, or bad backs, or saggy mommy bellies. It’s a great all-around workout combining stretching, cardio, and strengthening exercise all at once, and works the core most of all. Throw out the dreaded treadmill, it’s collecting dust anyway. The weights and the exercise ball are taking up room in a corner or your gym membership is ignored. The yoga tapes are also collecting dust. And best of all, once you get the hang of it, tai chi is easy enough to do for the rest of your life. I know. I have had elderly Chinese neighbors in most of my condo complexes and even in this single family home neighborhood throughout my adult life. Even on chill winter mornings, they are outside, even up in their nineties, making slow graceful circles with their arms, cutting through their clouds of breath.

I find, if I keep myself moving, it keeps the cobwebs out of my mind, so the muse doesn’t get hung up in them. I can make the connections between where I left off and what needs to occur next in my manuscript. So, for all us sedentary writer types, I really do recommend some kind of movement, and having tried it all, tai chi seems the best option so far.

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